Ever dream about finding a way to do what you love for a living? In our "Do What You Love" column, we ask people who've done it to tell us their secrets. Here's hoping they inspire you to do the same.
Photekt founder Nico Marques has loved photography for as long as he can remember. Since he received his first camera at age five, he's been taking pictures and documenting the world around him from his own unique perspective. As Marques grew up, he also developed an interest in architecture. By chance, he was given the opportunity to take photographs of a site built by the architecture firm he worked for after college. That's when he realized he could combine his passions and make a living doing what he loves.Photekt founder Nico Marques Credit: Richard Hammond
BusinessNewsDaily: Explain what you do for a living.
Nico Marques: I am an architectural photographer, meaning that I mostly shoot photographs of building interiors and exteriors for clients ranging from architects to interior designers, artists, restaurateurs and publications. The goal is to document and create a captivating visual narrative of a built environment for publication.
BND: How did you end up doing this for a living?
N.M.: I have a Master of Architecture degree from SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture), and I worked as a designer and project manager for several national and international architecture firms for more than 10 years. During this time, I started to oversee and coordinate photo shoots of our projects due to my experience in the field of photography. When one unsupervised photo shoot was deemed insufficient, my principal asked me to fly to the high-profile site to supplement the initial shoot with my photographs. My work hit the mark, and something clicked in my head: I can combine two of my life-long passions into one profession! Thus, I began my architectural-photography career with Photekt, which I established shortly thereafter.
BND: How did you become interested in architecture and photography?
N.M.: From an early age on, I had an interest in architecture, art and photography. Growing up in Portugal and Germany, I remember receiving my first camera for St. Nicholas Day when I was five. I proceeded to try and take underwater photos in the tub, with consequences that were quite surprising to me at the time, but even then, I did not stop after that slight bit of controversy.
Following this early age of experimentation, I went on to discover Sebastião Salgado's deeply moving body of work and was hooked for good, photographing my surroundings ever since. Later, another Brazilian gentleman named Oscar Niemeyer added the architectural sense of awe and thus planted the seed that grew into Photekt.
BND: What is your favorite exhibit that you've done to date?
N.M.: I have been fortunate to have been part of quite a few exhibits and photography shows over the years, and having work included in the Museum of Contemporary Art's "New Sculpturalism: Contemporary Architecture from Southern California," as well as the "Never Built: Los Angeles" exhibit at the Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles, was a tremendous honor. My favorite show, however, is the one with the biggest influence on my career: my first solo show in a small gallery in Porto, Portugal, when I was 16.
BND: What did you want to be when you grew up?
N.M.: I wanted to be a doctor, like my grandfather, with whom I spent a lot of time growing up; an astronaut, like no other family member; a priest, before I discovered girls. Before my architectural studies and career, I was envisioning becoming a conflict photographer like James Nachtwey, but the thought of being shot at on a continuous basis, as well as constantly documenting atrocities, ultimately made me go down another road.
BND: Why do you love your job?
N.M.: I am able to fill my days with two things I very much love doing. I support architectural practitioners in a way I would have wanted to be showcased when I was practicing, and I run my own business. Action- and adrenaline-filled shooting days are interspersed with more relaxing and mundane days in between, which gives me the opportunity to recharge my batteries and spend a good amount of time with my 3-year-old son. I get to travel often for work, I meet a lot of fascinating people and, truth be told, I get to see the architectural project at its best and most beautiful stage when shooting it. What is not to love?
BND: What's the biggest misconception about your job?
N.M.: Being a professional photographer is much more than just taking a few good photographs. Consistently delivering a high-quality product, following through and hard work are hallmarks of success in our line of work. I think many people have an image of the life of leisure for creative professionals like photographers, architects and designers, when, in reality, I can assure you that they — especially architects — are some of the hardest-working individuals with the longest hours and extreme dedication to their craft. I find many similarities between photography and my career in architecture, only that the process is much, much shorter for each project. I normally have a turnaround from pre-production to finished product in the clients' hands in about a month — which, for 99.9 percent of architecture projects, would be unthinkable. Sometimes, the hours can be very long, and of course, many projects are going on simultaneously. Contrary to popular belief, we generally do not drive around in a convertible, shoot a couple of photographs and then sail off to our weekend retreat on the Hamptons.
BND: If you didn't do your job, whose job would you like to have, and why?
N.M.: I grew up in the wine business in Portugal, so I could see myself getting involved in growing and making wine. I go home to Porto for harvest on the family winery almost every year, and there is a sort of intangible satisfaction from working the earth with your hands that is quite delightful. It is a very different life that involves hard physical labor, and being involved in agriculture definitely is not nearly as romantic as popular perception would like it to be. But there is something about it that is beautiful and simple, and thus, I could consider it as an alternative.